The young Mary Cassatt never thought moving to Paris after the Civil War was going to be easy, but when, after a decade of work, her submission to the Paris Salon is rejected, Mary's fierce determination wavers. Her father is imploring her to return to Philadelphia to find a husband before it is too late, her sister Lydia is falling mysteriously ill, and worse, Mary is beginning to doubt herself. Then one evening a friend introduces her to Edgar Degas and her life changes forever. Years later she will learn that he had begged the introduction, but in that moment their meeting seems a miracle. So begins the defining period of her life and the most tempestuous of relationships.
In I Always Loved You, Robin Oliveira brilliantly re-creates the irresistible world of Belle Époque Paris, writing with grace and uncommon insight into the passion and foibles of the human heart.
"What a joy it is to be back in Belle Époque Paris with my old artist friends, guided by the masterful pen of Robin Oliveira whose finely crafted language brings to light the complicated relationships of four of the principals of the Impressionist movement—Cassatt, Degas, Manet, Morisot. Only an omniscient narrator has the latitude to disclose the private yearnings and fears of these four as they grapple with issues of art execution, scathing reviews, self-doubt, elusive fame, tempestuous love, and creeping mortality. Here, in beautiful prose, juicy with nuance and depth, is the intimate, heart-wrenching story behind Impressionist art history, with Mary Cassatt at its center. A glorious achievement."
-- Susan Vreeland, author of Luncheon of the Boating Party
"I Always Loved You is a marvelous work, enthralling, illuminating, and beautifully rendered. Robin Oliveira brings Belle Époque Paris and the fascinating artists and writers who walked its streets and filled its salons to the fullness of vivid, fiercely passionate life."
-- Jennifer Chiaverini, author of Mrs. Lincoln's Dressmaker and The Spymistress
"Oliveira's breathtaking, cinematic novel transported me to late-nineteenth-century Paris, to lively salons and cafes, and to the refuge of the studio. There, each day, Mary Cassatt struggled to silence family obligation, doubt, set-backs, and longings, so that she could take up her brush and create. This story reveals what it means to be an artist who is also a woman, and you will feel both the anguish and the triumph down in your bones."
-- Kelly O'Connor McNees, author of In Need of a Good Wife and The Lost Summer of Louisa May Alcott
"In artfully crafted prose as penetrating and radiant as an Impressionist masterpiece, Robin Oliveira’s moving portrait of Mary Cassatt and Edgar Degas is a poignant reminder that beneath the majestic sweep of history and ideas are men and women with yearnings and trepidations as urgent and palpable as our own. I Always Loved You evokes, in brilliant detail, the nuances of culture, art, and society in the cafés and salons of late-nineteenth-century Paris while bringing to life the spellbinding whirl of artists, writers, and savants who made La Belle Époque legendary."
-- John Pipkin, author of Woodsburner